The Lakers won an ugly 87-81 victory over the Celtics tonight to cut Boston's lead to 2-1. Here are some observations:
--While the Lakers won, the Celtics are still controlling the tempo of this series, and that's very worrisome. Today was a low-scoring physical defensive affair that is in direct contrast to the Lakers preferred up-tempo style.
--Sasha Vujacic saved the Lakers today. Kobe Bryant is going to get his points. But with Lamar Odom continuing to be ineffective on offense, and Pau Gasol missing everything possible, the Lakers had to get offense from somewhere. Vujacic's 20 points was like a godsend. But if I'm LA, I can't keep counting on that. Gasol and Odom need to step up.
--Paul Pierce finally had a bad game. He had been the best player in the first two games, but the Lakers were able to force him to take bad shots, and he fell back to six points on a putrid 2-for-14 shooting.
--While the Celtics only out-rebounded the Lakers 45-44 tonight, it seems like Boston is getting all of the key rebounds, especially on the offensive end. Ronny Turiaf played 19 minutes and grabbed zero rebounds. That has to change.
--48 hours after he played the game of his life, Leon Powe played only six minutes. I have no idea what Doc Rivers was thinking there. Powe clearly causes matchup problems for the Lakers, so Rivers helped LA out by not playing him.
--Does Vladimir Radmanovic do anything?
--The Lakers need to come out and push the pace in Game 4 on Thursday. They also need to get much better ball movement and execute the triangle. It's not easy against this Celtic defense, but that's why it's called the NBA Finals.